The description of a residence, of home might be easy to put into words and all but impossible to satisfy in its built conclusion. The ingredients are standard, the variations on the theme endless. It is a box, a series of boxes under a roof, a machine for living in, a place of the soul. It is Bachelard’s nest and shells. It is still the primitive dwelling and it is increasingly irrelevant.
We live in an era which is turning its attention to the vacuous landscapes of a virtual world. Within this the statements that the built environment provides are increasingly reduced in impact.
You do not design a residence in order to make a statement but, inadvertently one ends up saying a great deal. A case in point is the residence of the Eraclis Papachristou’s family, one of those situations where the architect is also the client.
During the approach one cannot read the function behind the pure form. The scale of the object, the height and the confidence with which it is described do not make reference to the usual domestic situation. There is no vernacular reference to comfort here. The design has evolved into more.
Set in fields of wheat it is a longitudinal volume of exposed concrete that acts as a hinge between the sky and the ground. It is a design that is elevated above the landscape. The entrance, a singularly impressive void that traverses half the length of the entirety acts as a ceremonial bridge into the world within. It creates distance from the environment at the very moment where it celebrates the journey into a world contained and deftly described.
The openings on the surface are few and guarded. On the northwest façade they are cut out of the concrete surface. They are cut out and folded out, forming protective and directional shields to the openings. Even the stretch of uninterrupted glazing that runs the entire northeast facades is carefully shielded through perforated brass screens. If it is a box, it is closed.
The play of light is enhanced. The shadows are once crisp and then broken up themselves. It is a formal dance of the unexpected.
And this is where, in so many ways, the design becomes intriguing. The vast volumes that form the inner spaces are themselves described through art and sculpture. The conversation between the dwelling and the exhibition gallery begins. A contemporary version of Kettle’s Yard, maybe.
The height of spaces is simply immense, a reference to the mansions that once defined wealth upon the island. The elevated language of the piano nobile is a further such nod to the vernacular.
But the concrete and crisp marble surfaces, the simple, long lines make sure the result is solidly contemporary. It is a version of minimalism that allows expression and art to invade and inform its sheer walls. It is a statement, an architect flexing carefully controlled muscles. It is a statement that allows for statements within it.